If you are new to golf or remember the first time you teed it up, you will remember all the lingo that came the game. To name a few there is mulligan, gimmie, block shots, bump and run, chunk, and duck shots. Then there is your golf swing plane.
What is a Golf Swing Plane?
No, it is not your new private jet. It is the term used to describe the path and direction of your golf club during the swing. The golf club travels in an arcing motion around your body. This path is your golf swing plane. There has been much taught about swing planes. There is the single plane golf swing and two plane golf swing. Let’s focus on just the basic principle of the swing plane itself.
The swing plane is determined by the angle of the shaft at address. Longer clubs are going to have a natural flat plane. Short irons are going to have a steeper swing plane. This all makes sense because longer clubs hit the ball at a shallow angle of attack. Short irons are going to hit ball at a steeper angle of attack, which calls for a steeper swing plane.
Why Does Swing Plane Matter?
The club should travel on this imaginary plane created at address. How you take the golf club back dictates how the club is going to travel on the downswing.
The club taken back on an inside path or below the swing plane can create an inside out move on the downswing. This type of downswing can create a push if the club is below plane.
The club taken back on an outside path or above the swing plane will create an over the top move on the downswing. The club approaches the ball above plane cutting across the ball through impact. This is what creates a slice. Most beginner golfers have perfected this downswing.
A few pro golfers do take the club back off plane but are on plane in the downsing. Jim Furyk is an example of taking his club back outside and then looping it back on plane on the dowswing. It is best though that the average golfer trys to keep things simple.
Is There Any Hope?
You might be wondering if there is any hope to fing your golf swing plane. There is definitly hope! The golf swing is a continous motion. There are many instructors who provide drills that teach where the club should be during the golf swing. Many golfers then start stopping mid back swing to see where the club is. Checking positions in the golf swing can become problematic because the swing is not a stop and go action. It becomes a distraction from focusing on the target.
Use golf drills that teach a correct swing path going back and coming through. Here are a few golf swing plane drills to get you on track.
Golf Swing Drills
One of the best ways to starting on plane is making sure your alignement is correct. There are two ways of checking your alignment while practicing on the range. First take some twine and tie each end to two separate golf tees. Stick the first tee in the ground and then align the second tee with your entended target. The string should be pointing at your target. You can now hit balls while using this string as your alignament tool. You can even place your ball on the piece of twine and hit balls off of it.
Second way to check your alignment is to take two clubs. Lay down your first club pointing to your intended target. Take the second club and place it 3 feet behind the first club pointing at the target. Both clubs should point to your intended target but there is a gap of about three feet between the two clubs, this is your hitting area.
Both alignment drills should be used to take the club back along the target line. Taking the club back on the target line will keep your club on plane.
One Arm Drill
You will know you are on plane by the way your club is releasing through the ball. For a right hand golfer, grip the club with just your left hand. Know take small practice swings and notice how your left hand and arm is releasing the club through impact. This drill is simple but will help you understand the feeling of releasing the club on your swing plane.
One Piece Takeaway
Taking the club back with your hand, arms, and shoulders will start the club back on the right path. A good drill to help get the feeling of this one piece takeway is to put the butt end of your club right into your stomach. Your hands should be gripping the club on the shaft. Now take the club back while keeping the golf club pressed into your stomach. In order to do the drill correctly your shoulders have to move the same time as your arms and hands.
Avoid using only your hands and arms, doing so will make the clubhead travel to the inside. Instead you want the club to move straight back. This can only be done if the shoulders rotate at the same time as the hands and arms.
Become a Hitting Machine
Practice these drills and get your club on the right swing plane. If your are interested in learning more about swing planes in depth then I suggest reading The Plane Truth for Golfers by Jim Hardy. It goes into depth about the differences between a single plane golf swine and a two plane golf swing.